Performance Skating Playbook: NHL Movement Analysis - October 2019

BOS vs. CHI (9-21-19) | Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks)

Brandon Saad displays an excellent ability to read the play and pick up the Boston Bruins goalie's attempt to rim and clear the puck. Just as the Boston defender steps up to cover man-to-man, Saad executes an open hip start to re-accelerate up toward the blue line. What appears to be a fake pass to the high Chicago Blackhawks player throws off Karson Kuhlman with the Bruins and eases up the defensive pressure on Saad, allowing Saad to now focus upon evading Trent Frederic with the Bruins who is shadowing him on the half-wall. The rapid deceleration and re-acceleration into the change of direction require incredible core strength in order to maintain optimal postural alignment.

Saad utilizes a rapid stop-start maneuver and uses his inside body position and a one-handed backhand carry to separate the puck from the two Bruins players who are tracking him. Saad makes a great backhand pass to Anton Wedin who reconnects with him as he cuts across the slot for an exceptional pre-season goal.

As an alternate play, if Wedin was not available or Saad observed an open shooting lane, he could release a quick shot as he exits the change of direction as his notable agility skills allow him to create separation between him and the defender.

MTL vs. OTT (9-21-19) | Thomas Tatar (Montreal Canadiens)

Tomas Tatar enters the Ottawa Senators' zone with Colin White and Connor Brown applying defensive pressure against him. Tatar displays a formidable ability to maintain puck control with an active stick leveraged by a strong body position even as Maxime Lajoie jumps in as a third defender covering Tatar. With three players shadowing him, Tatar cuts toward the inside of the ice before immediately turning his feet to the opposing direction and driving the outside edge of his right skate into the ice to produce a skid turn which allows him to decelerate with control and precision as he simultaneously generates a change of direction.

As Tatar initiates the skid turn, he quickly collects the puck and scans the ice to send a sharp pass up to Mike Reilly up on the blue line. As Reilly contains the puck and begins to move laterally by walking the blue line, he uses a great no-look pass to set up Tatar who steps off of the hall-wall to generate a rapid shot on net and subsequent goal.

As an alternate play, Tatar and Reilly could work together to generate multiple quick passes to each other in succession, allowing Tatar to re-position himself down low in order to produce more traffic in front of the net. With Reilly releasing a shot from the blue line, Tatar would be in an exceptional position for a tip-in or rebound.

SJS vs. ANA (10-5-19) | Michael Del Zotto (Anaheim Ducks)

Ryan Getzlaf head-mans the puck for the Anaheim Ducks and enters the San Jose Sharks zone while displaying an excellent ability to protect the puck using his stick and body position against Marc-Edouard Vlasic who steps up and challenges him as the first defender. Getzlaf pulls the puck to his inside leg and executes a heel-to-heel movement before rimming the puck around the boards off of his backhand.

Andrej Kase applies a strong forecheck and picks up San Jose's attempt to clear the puck. Kase also executes a heel-to-heel movement to re-position himself toward the high slot and he connects with Del Zotto across the net for an incredible goal.

As an alternate play, Del Zotto could reconnect with Kase for an additional cross-crease pass if Kase was able to maneuver through the San Jose defense for an open shooting lane.

MIN vs. COL (10-5-19) | Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche)

Nathan MacKinnon bursts into the Minnesota Wild zone and drops the puck back for Mikko Rantanen who trails up the right side of the ice. As Rantanen moves up the half-wall he establishes a wide inside edge glide position which allows him to maneuver through the offensive zone by externally rotating his left hip which produces a 'rudder' effect, affording him greater lateral mobility while simultaneously assuming a wide abducted leg position which creates greater puck protection and body separation.

With three Wild players covering him, Rantanen finishes the movement sequence by producing a heel-to-heel step which allows him to re-position his body toward the net and unleash a devastatingly quick shot through traffic which results in a highlight-worthy goal.

As an alternate play, Rantanen could maneuver through traffic and subsequently set up a teammate with a pass. With three Wild players covering Rantanen, setting up a teammate would produce a high-probability scoring opportunity for the Colorado Avalanche.

TBL vs. FLA (10-5-19) | Mike Hoffman (Florida Panthers)

Jonathan Huberdeau with The Florida Panthers catches a D-to-D pass and begins to walk up the half-wall in the Tampa Bay Lightning zone. Huberdeau establishes a wide inside edge glide position to establish strong body separation between the puck and Ryan McDonagh, the first Tampa Bay player covering him. As Huberdeau glides and maneuvers through the zone, he uses a deceptive stickhandle to fake a high pass which forces McDonagh to stop and hold position.

As Huberdeau begins to cut in toward the middle of the ice, he uses another stickhandle to fake a pass to either the high or low open pass options; he remains patient and waits for the Tampa Bay players to bite on the deceptive move, leaving Hoffman wide open to receive the pass and deliver a rapid blocker-side top-shelf goal.

As an alternate play, as Huberdeau cuts down low and forces Tampa Bay's penalty kill unit to collapse, he can set up the high Florida player for a shot on net and a great opportunity to convert on a tip-in, deflection or rebound.

CBJ vs. PIT (10-5-19) | Marcus Pettersson (Pittsburgh Penguins)

The play begins on a Pittsburgh Penguins forecheck into the Columbus Blue Jackets zone. Zach Werenski with CBJ attempts to clear the puck by making a bank pass through Sidney Crosby who is positioned down low beneath the goal line. Crosby defends his ice and wins the stick battle against Werenski, popping out from behind the net with the puck.

As Crosby steps out, he utilizes a heel-to-heel movement and a deceptive stick handle to fake a cross-ice pass. The Columbus player bites on the fake which provides Crosby with ample time and space to make a pass up to Marcus Pettersson who steps in from the blue line and snaps the puck, which bounces off of the goalie's catcher and slides in for a goal.

As an alternate play, Crosby could use the first initial heel-to-heel movement to deceive the Columbus defender and mimic the same movement again for a second time in order to deliver a shot on goal from down low in close proximity to the goalie.

CGY vs. VGK (10-12-19) | William Carrier (Vegas Golden Knights)

The play begins with the Vegas Golden Knights containing the Calgary Flames' zone and rimming the puck around the boards for the Vegas forward who is positioned down low beneath the goal line. William Karlsson does an excellent job of containing the puck on his backhand and producing an efficient, two-foot stop behind the net.

Karlsson displays excellent movement mechanics by keeping a stable and upright torso during deceleration and simultaneously keeping his head elevated and eyes focused on his surroundings. He quickly makes the back-hand pass to Carrier who steps in off of the hash marks and roofs the puck over the shoulder of the Calgary goalie for an incredible goal.

NJD vs. BOS (10-12-19) | Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins)

The play begins with an off-wing breakout pass that is received by Brad Marchand as the puck bounces off of his lead skate. As he enters the New Jersey Devils zone, he is pressured to the boards by PK Subban. As Marchand moves up the half-wall, he executes a two-foot stop with open hip re-acceleration, providing him with ample body separation and puck protection.

Even as Marchand falls to one knee and PK Subban gains an additional step on him, Marchand still maintains puck control as he steps out to the high slot to release a quick shot on net that makes its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

Some excellent keys to success include Marchand's strong core control and coordination between his upper body and lower body which allow him to maintain possession of the puck even while being pushed and knocked off-balance.

As an alternate play, as Marchand steps off of the half-wall and into the high slot, he could leave a drop pass for Zdeno Chara for added offensive pressure from the blue line and a trademark Chara cannon from the point.

CBJ vs. CAR (10-12-19) | Olivier Bjorkstrand (Carolina Hurricanes)

Oliver Bjorkstrand with the Columbus Blue Jackets wins the puck battle against Sebastian Aho in the Carolina Hurricanes zone. As Bjorkstrand cuts below the goal line and maneuvers behind the net, he uses a two-hand stick position to retain active control of the puck while simultaneously leveraging a wide base of support in order to maintain body separation from Aho.

As Bjorkstrand turns around the net, he shifts his center of mass to his inside leg and he uses several toe-drags in succession in order to maintain control of the puck. He finishes the sequence by using a heel-to-heel jump to generate momentum for the rapid snapshot that he delivers, resulting in an incredible goal.

NSH vs. LAK (10-12-19) | Anze Kopitar (LA Kings)

Dustin Brown sets up this incredible play as the LA Kings break out of the defensive zone. Brown displays excellent athleticism and coordination and he utilizes lateral crossovers to increase his stride rate and acceleration through the neutral zone. He also demonstrates great hand-eye coordination with his puck control as he navigates down the ice.

Using a deceptive lateral counter-move at the red line to evade Matt Duchene, Brown gains the offensive zone. With three Nashville Predators shadowing him, Brown sets up the backhand pass to Anze Kopitar who snipes the puck into the back of the net as the open trailing player.

BUF vs. SJS (10-19-19) | Marcus Johansson (Buffalo Sabres)

Henri Jokiharju with the Buffalo Sabres sets up an excellent play as he navigates through the neutral zone and builds up skating momentum on entry into the San Jose Sharks zone.

Jokiharju utilizes two screens in combination with good upper body and lower body coordination in order to produce a counter-move with his puck control and footwork that allows him to evade the Sharks defenseman and forward up at the blue line. The Sabres do a great job of keeping the play onside as Jokiharju gains the zone and as he sets up Marcus Johansson for a drop pass which results in a quick snapshot and subsequent goal.

As an alternate play, Jokiharju can open back up to receive a one-timer pass from Johansson in order to produce a sharp angle, short-side shot on net.

FLA vs. EDM (10-27-19) | Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers)

Aaron Ekblad with the Florida Panthers breaks out of the defensive zone with a neutral zone pass up to Aleksander Barkov. Barkov navigates through two Edmonton Oilers players by using a rudder maneuver to move laterally and gain body separation before transitioning to a deep right turn and pulling the puck across his body from forehand to backhand.

Barkov initiates the drop pass just in time for Ekblad to pick up the puck, stall with a toe drag, and snap the puck low side blocker on the Oilers goalie. As an alternate play, Barkov could maintain puck possession for a delay move to the high trailing Panthers left-side defenseman.

TOR vs. MTL (10-26-19) | Jake Muzzin (Toronto Maple Leafs)

The play begins in the Canadiens de Montréal zone with man-to-man coverage and a series of close quarter puck battles. Mitch Marner receives the pass from the half wall and uses his excellent puck maneuvering skills to create time and space as he draws the attention of all five Montreal players, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a positional advantage in the offensive zone.

Marner makes the backhand pass across the high slot to Jake Muzzin who steps in from the blue line and unleashes a quick shot on net. Muzzin capitalizes upon the opportunity and scores with an open short-side shooting lane available. As an alternate play, Marner could fake the pass to Muzzin and spin back toward the net, firing the puck from the top of the circle.

ANA vs. COL (10-26-19) | Adam Henrique (Anaheim Ducks)

 Hampus Lindholm begins the breakout out of the @Anaheim Ducks defensive end by making the pass up to Rickard Rakell who bursts through the neutral zone with speed utilizing lateral crossovers to increase stride rate and acceleration. As Rakell enters the Colorado Avalanche zone, he is challenged by defenseman Samuel Girard up at the blue line.

As Girard commits to opening up toward the boards, Rakell uses an evasive weight shift to fake a move to the inside while he simultaneously drives wide toward the outside with speed. Rakell makes an excellent pass through traffic and connects with Adam Henrique for this exceptional goal.

As an alternate play, Rakell can attempt to beat Girard to the short side goalie post and make a pass up to the high Anaheim defenseman trailing late into the zone for a shot from the point.